(Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)
Puerto Rico is still reeling from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, with one Puerto Rico resident calling the destruction, “the equivalent of an atomic blast.” Officials and residents are only just now starting to assess the scope of the damage, with some calling conditions on the island “apocalyptic.”
Much of the island is still without power, cell phone communication, and even water, according to officials who flew over Puerto Rico yesterday. Roads have been washed out, houses are destroyed, and the island is littered with debris. “It was devastating to see all that kind of debris in all areas, in all towns of the island,” Jenniffer González, who represents the island in Congress, told CNN. “We never expected to have a lot of debris in so many areas. A lot of roads are closed, older ones are just gone.”
Yesterday, Governor Ricardo Rosselló met with local officials to discuss conditions in their municipalities, and the news was dire. Some called the situation “apocalyptic,” and noted residents have already started looting in their towns. There were also reports that the Guajataca dam in Quebradillas was in danger of collapsing and putting the lives of 70,000 people at risk, prompting mass evacuations. Today, though, some local officials said those reports were overblown and the dam is expected to hold.
Still, it seems relief is far out of reach for Puerto Ricans. Journalist Julio Ricardo Varela tweeted a friend’s Facebook post alleging “the worst could be yet to come” in Puerto Rico. “People do not have access to their own money since banks, ATMs are not functioning and whatever can be bought is only with cash since cash register and credit cards machine are not working,” they wrote. “Internal phone communications are extremely limited if existent at all. Food and gasoline for cars and generators are only days away from vanishing…In the next 48-72 hours desperation is going to start to set in.”
— Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77) September 23, 2017
Governor Cuomo, who was in Puerto Rico on Friday to assess the damage and provide supplies, held a press conference this afternoon with Jennifer Lopez, Rosie Perez, and the Mets to announce NY State’s new Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico.
The initiative’s website lists organizations with which New Yorkers can volunteer, along with a Puerto Rico Relief & Rebuilding Fund at New York Community Trust, where you can donate, and a list of collection points managed by the National Guard, where people can drop off supplies and other donations. The Mets will also collect donations at games at Citi Field. “When you care, you show up,” Cuomo said today. “Just showing up gave people on the island a sense of hope.”
On Friday, Cuomo described what he saw in Puerto Rico, noting “in person it is much worse than it appears on the TV reports.” “The devastation of the island is really breathtaking,” he said at a press conference. “There are parts of the island that have as much as seven to eight feet of water in homes.”
If you’d like to help Puerto Rico, here is a list of organizations looking for donations.